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CSU-ERFA News & Views

Please note that the summaries of news items posted on this page do not necessarily represent the official positions of CSU-ERFA or its affiliates.  Links contained within the summaries may take you to the original news sources.  CSU-ERFA is not responsible for the content of linked articles and cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of those articles.


September 2015

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

CSU-ERFA is searching for a new Executive Director to replace Don Cameron, who is retiring from the position on June 30, 2016.  Applications must be received by the Chair of the Search Committee by Feb. 1, 2016.  The official vacancy announcement can be found here.


The Open Enrollment Period for CalPERS health plans runs from September 14, 2015 to October 9, 2015.

Significant changes to CalPERS offerings for retirees have been made.  Four existing Medicare options will be discontinued, and will be replaced by a United Health Care Medicare Advantage Plan.  If you currently are enrolled in the Anthem Blue Cross HMO plan, Blue Shield of California HMO, Health Net HMO, or Sharp HMO, you will need to choose either the new United Health Care Medicare Advantage Plan or one of the other existing options.  For details please see the front-page story in the September 2015 issue of the Reporter.

More information about the new United Health Care Medicare Advantage Plan is available in this Q&A from CalPERS.

And here is a special note for people who receive their health care from the U.C. Davis Health System in the greater Sacramento area.


Resolution Advising CSU-ERFA Members Not to Sign the "Public Employees. Pension and Retiree Healthcare Benefits. Initiative Constitutional Amendment" (Chuck Reed Initiative)

WHEREAS CSU-ERFA has taken positions in the past against the restriction of retirement benefits for current and future public employees, such as those proposed by former Mayor Chuck Reed of San Jose; and

WHEREAS the current Chuck Reed Initiative, "1696. (15-0033) Public Employees. Pension and Retiree Healthcare Benefits. Initiative Constitutional Amendment," proposes to eliminate constitutional protections for vested pension and retiree healthcare benefits for current public employees, including those of the CSU; and

WHEREAS the current Chuck Reed initiative proposes barring all new public employees in California from being placed in defined benefit retirement plans and barring public employers from paying more than one-half the cost of new employees’ retirement benefits or enhancing retirement benefits, unless changes are first approved by the voters; THEREFORE

BE IT RESOLVED that the CSU-ERFA Executive Committee unanimously opposes the current Chuck Reed initiative that will be circulated between August 11, 2015 and February 8, 2016 and advises all CSU-ERFA members not to sign it.

Background Information

The Attorney-General’s summary of the proposed initiative is below:

1696. (15-0033) Public Employees. Pension and Retiree Healthcare Benefits. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Summary Date: 08/11/2015 | Circulation Deadline: 02/08/16 | Signatures Required: 585,407 Chuck Reed, Stephanie Gomes, Carl DeMaio, Pat Morris, Bill Kampe, and Tom Tait (415) 732-7700

Eliminates constitutional protections for vested pension and retiree healthcare benefits for current public employees, including those working in K-12 schools, higher education, hospitals, and police protection, for future work performed. Adds initiative/referendum powers to Constitution, for determining public employee compensation and retirement benefits. Bars government employers from enrolling new employees in defined benefit plans, paying more than one-half cost of new employees’ retirement benefits, or enhancing retirement benefits, unless first approved by voters. Limits placement of financial conditions upon government employers closing defined benefit plans to new employees. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Significant effects—savings and costs—on state and local governments relating to compensation for governmental employees. The magnitude and timing of these effects would depend heavily on future decisions made by voters, governmental employers, and the courts. (15-0033.) (Full Text)




August 2015

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

CalPERS is providing an informational webinar on the new UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage PPO plan being offered during this coming Open Enrollment period (September 14-October 9). This webinar was created specifically with Medicare-eligible retirees in mind.

All CSU Retirees who might be interested in this new Medicare Advantage PPO Plan, are encouraged to register for the the webinar.  Note the date!

Date:  Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Time: 3:00pm,  Pacific Daylight Time

Topic: “Get to Know the UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage PPO Plan”

Duration: 60 minutes

Follow this link to register:


Questions will be answered through the live chat function of the webinar; and, the webinar will be recorded, and made available on the new CalPERS website for those who are unable to participate in the live session. 

Register with your name and email address so that CalPERS can gauge the size of the prospective audience.




July 2015

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

An updated version of the CSU Volunteer Policy has been released by the Chancellor's Office. Current and potential CSU volunteers are encouraged to become familiar with this policy, which applies to all campuses of the CSU:


Note: The CFA recently requested a meet and confer session with CSU management with regard to the new CSU Volunteer Policy.  As a result, the new policy currently is being held in abeyance for this bargaining unit.  It continues in effect for all other bargaining units.  Current and prospective CSU volunteers should check with their campus HR offices to determine if this affects them.





June 2015

Retire from work, but not from life.  ~M.K. Soni

The June 2015 issue of the Reporter, CSU-ERFA's quarterly newsletter is now available online.  This issue contains a number of interesting articles including one by former CalPERS Board Member George Diehr of CSU San Marcos that shows how choosing a Reduced Allowance during the first five years of retirement can significantly enhance a retiree's retirement benefit after the first five years.  This may be of interest to those who plan to have other sources of income early in retirement.

George has prepared a "web extra" that provides extensive footnotes and extra details about how the Reduced Allowance option works.







May 2015

O, blest retirement! friend to life's decline -
How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these,
A youth of labor with an age of ease!
~Oliver Goldsmith



The CSU-ERFA Grant Awards Committee has announced the start of the 2015-16 Grant Awards Cycle.  Members of CSU-ERFA may apply for grants to support their research, scholarly, and creative activities beginning May 21, 2015.  Completed applications must be received at CSU-ERFA headquarters by December 18, 2015.

Detailed guidelines for the program and application forms for the 2015-16 may be downloaded from our Member Services page.





March 2015

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.


Unfortunately, CSU Chancellor White will not be able to keynote the April 25, 2015 CSU-ERFA State Council Meeting at CSULB.  In his place, Steven Stepanek, who is the Faculty Trustee on the CSU Board of Trustees will be our keynote speaker.  More information is available in the updated March 2015 issue of the Reporter.


Responding to the Anthem Data Breach: the recent Anthem data breach has exposed the personal information of many CalPERS members and annuitants to potential identity theft problems.  Anyone who was enrolled in one of the CalPERS basic or supplement to Medicare plans that were managed by Anthem-Blue Cross during the past ten years are at the highest risk for ID theft, but there also is a potential risk for those enrolled in CalPERS HMO Plans managed by Blue Shield.

Anthem has indicated that it will be sending letters to people whose information may have been stolen. They also are making available at no cost for two years ID theft repair and credit monitoring services to those who may have been affected by the data breach.  Most importantly, they are allowing those who may be affected to enroll in these services immediately without having to wait to receive a letter from Anthem.  Anthem has contracted with AllClear ID to provide these services.  If you believe that you may be at risk from the Anthem data breach, you are encouraged to go to the www.anthemfacts.com website and follow the https://anthem.allclearid.com link on that page to enroll.

In addition, we have prepared a more detailed article that discusses the extent of the Anthem data breach and how to enroll in the ID repair and credit monitoring services that can be downloaded here.


CSU-ERFA Foundation awards Mary B. White (San Jose) $2000 grant for research on the California Art Glass Movement.

Mary B. White from San Jose State University was awarded a grant in the amount of  $2000 from the CSU-ERFA Foundation Grant Awards Cycle 2014-2015.

Her research project is on Hot Spots: California Art Glass Movement: 1962 to Present. The project highlights many glass movement artists. It also highlights California Higher Education’s role in the development and expansion of the national art glass movement since 1964.   The project includes interviewing key CSU faculty and alumni glass artists. The final product is the mounting of a six-day exhibition of 20 to 25 glass sculptural pieces, a symposium, and an on-line catalogue. The Association of California Clay and Glass Artists have agreed to co-sponsor the exhibition and will pay for insurance, along with in other in- kind support.

White anticipates that the research project will bring prestige and recognition to the CSU for its role in and contributions to the Glass Art Movement.




February 2015

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.


CalPERS has announced that nominations for candidates for the retiree member of the CalPERS Board of Administration will be accepted beginning on March 23, 2015. More information about the nomination process can be found here.


Numerous news sources reported today (Feb. 5, 2015) that health insurance giant Anthem's computers were hacked; and, that customers' personal information was stolen - including birthdates and Social Security numbers.  We do not know yet if this includes CalPERS members and annuitants who are enrolled in health plans administered by Anthem-Blue Cross.  We will post that information when becomes available.  Anthem has stated that it will mail letters to all clients whose information has been stolen.

Meanwhile, Anthem clients should be alert to signs of possible identity theft.  The Los Angeles Times has published an article that provides some information that you can use to protect yourself from possible identity theft.


The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled unanimously in a case from West Virginia (M&G Polymers USA v. Tackett, No. 13-1010) that in the absence of specific language in a union contract granting retirees free lifetime healthcare benefits, the company might be able to require the retirees to contribute to the cost of their health plan.

This raises a question about CSU retiree health benefits.  Namely, are they a "vested right," i.e. are CSU retirees entitled to lifetime healthcare benefits? In an attempt to answer that question, your webmaster has prepared a short article that discusses the issues surrounding CSU retiree healthcare benefits.





January 2015

One of the problems of retirement is that it gives you more time to read about the problems of retirement. ~Author unknown.


Call for Applications

Faculty Fellows Positions

California Community Colleges and the California State University

Faculty Collaboratives Project

Association of American Colleges and Universities

California is one of five states taking the lead in a new project that will create a state -based, faculty-led "innovation hub" to build faculty capacity to advance curricular reforms that promote student learning, persistence and completion. Organized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) with a grant from Lumina Foundation, the Faculty Collaboratives project (2014-2017) aims to develop a multi-state network of resource and innovation hubs and a learning community of faculty fellows focused on large-scale, proficiency-based projects related to AAC&U’s Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) initiative.

Five (5) California faculty fellows, a hub director, and a state liaison will work together to create a sustainable statewide community of practice through digital networks and in-person events to help faculty learn about the projects and contribute in creative ways to change. The resource hub will provide open source materials and access to the national learning community of fellows. The project seeks to engage and reach out to all educators, whatever their position, type of contract, or institutional type.

Phase I of the project (2014-2016) will involve five states who are affiliated with LEAP. The California State University (CSU) adopted the LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes as the framework for its general education (GE) breadth curriculum in 2008. The other phase I states are Indiana, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. The other five LEAP states will join the project in phase II (2015-2017).

The proficiency-based projects include the Degree Qualifications Profile, Tuning, LEAP VALUE rubrics, MSC: A Multi-state Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment, and General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs). The California collaborative will also work with the Interstate Passport Initiative of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE).

We are seeking applications from faculty in the California Community Colleges (CCC) and California State University (CSU) for five (5) faculty fellows to participate in the Faculty Collaboratives project from February, 2015, through September, 2016.

All CCC and CSU faculty (full- or part-time) are eligible to apply. Emeritus faculty will also be considered. Candidates should have a strong interest in faculty development and in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

Faculty fellows will receive a modest stipend or honorarium ($4000 for each of the first two years) and will also receive travel support to attend project convenings. They will also receive recognition through AAC&U and the California collaborative and be encouraged to develop publications and other scholarly materials based on their work.

The faculty fellows will have five areas of activity:

1. Study one proficiency-based project. Each fellow will investigate the initiative, including what it is, where it is being implemented, what evidence exists about its efficacy, and its implications for policy and practice, especially in California. The fellow’s key responsibility will be to provide leadership for learning and communication about one of the five:

Degree Qualifications Profile


LEAP VALUE rubrics

MSC: A Multi-state Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment

General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs)

2. Locate or create useful materials. The fellow will look for available resources, such as studies, practical tools, video clips, and websites developed elsewhere through or for the initiative. The fellow will also offer recommendations to the hub director concerning the design and content features of the hub and be creative in assembling and disseminating materials that will be interesting and useful to colleagues throughout California.

3. Collaborate with the state team. The fellows will work with the state team to organize and participate in activities and convening for outreach and social networking to faculty in the state. The team will determine how to create an effective website and communication hub and how the hub can function as a leadership center for faculty learning and outreach.

4. Join a national network. Each fellow will participate in a national network with fellows in other states working on the same initiative, sharing strategies on a bi-monthly basis (organized by AAC&U staff).

5. Help with project assessment. The fellows will contribute to state and national assessment activities.

For more information about the Faculty Collaboratives project and related initiatives, see http://leap.aacu.org/toolkit/projects/faculty-project.

Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae and letter of interest describing their academic experience, faculty development work, and scholarship of teaching and learning. Familiarity with LEAP and experience with assessment of student learning, educational technologies, and web design are helpful. Finalists will be asked to provide two professional references. Send the letter to Debra David, California state liaison, at ddavid@calstate.edu by January 30, 2015.



As you may know, CalPERS reimburses the basic Medicare Part B monthly premium (which is $104.90 for 2015) for its retirees who are in Medicare.  What you may not know is that if you are subject to the Income-Related Monthly Medicare Adjustment (the IRMMA) because your annual total adjusted income exceeds certain limits, you may be eligible to have part or all of the IRMMA reimbursed by CalPERS as well.

The amount of additional reimbursement will depend on how much excess money is available from the monthly health insurance contribution made by the CSU for CSU retirees.  This will vary depending on how many of your dependents, if any, are enrolled in CalPERS basic or supplemental health plans.

If you think you may be eligible for reimbursement for all or part of your IRMMA, you have to notify CalPERS in writing.  Include in your letter to CalPERS a copy of your annual letter from the Social Security Administration describing your benefits for the coming calendar year.  This will include the amount of your IRMMA. (The letter for 2015 was sent to Social Security recipients in late November 2014.)

Mail your request to

CalPERS Health Account Services
Medicare Administration
P.O. Box 942714
Sacramento, CA 94229-2714

Within a few weeks you should receive a response from CalPERS, which indicates the amount of additional Part B reimbursement you will receive for 2015.  Note that it can take from 30 to 90 days before the additional reimbursement begins to appear in your retirement check or deposit.  The reimbursement will cover the entire year, so you may also see a lump sum payment for the prior months.



December 2014

Don't play too much golf.  Two rounds a day are plenty.  ~Harry Vardon

A newly-released study shows that defined-benefit pension plans continue to be significantly more efficient than defined-contribution pension plans. The defined-benefit plans provide higher benefits at lower cost than 401K and other types of defined-contribution plans according to the authors.


Reminder: The deadline for submitting applications to the CSU-ERFA Grant Awards Program 2014-15 cycle is December 19, 2014.  These grants help to support the research, scholarly, and creative work of CSU-ERFA members.  A total of $5,000 is available for this grant cycle.  Non-members may submit grant applications if they include their membership application with their proposals.  Follow the above link for more information and application forms.


There is still time to donate to the CSU-ERFA Charitable foundation and receive a tax deduction for 2014.  Your donation will be matched dollar for dollar.

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation recently received a third $500 challenge grant from a CSU-ERFA member.  The donor will match all individual donations received by the foundation through December 30, 2014 up to a total of $500.

The CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that provides competitive grants to CSU-ERFA members to support their research and scholarly activities.  Donations in any amount from both CSU-ERFA members and the general public are welcomed.  Donations to the foundation generally are deductible from state and federal income taxes.

You may donate by sending a check to the CSU-ERFA Charitable Foundation at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8339.

CSU-ERFA members also have the option of setting up a regular monthly donation to the foundation from their CalPERS pension warrant. 

In either case, please download and fill out our donation agreement form.



November 2014

Q. How many retirees does it take to change a light bulb?

A. Only one, but it might take him or her two or three days. ~Author unknown.

The November 2014 issue of the CSU-ERFA newsletter, the Reporter, is now available online.

This edition includes a number of articles of interest to CSU retirees, including an update on health care issues such as long-term care options, and an update on the CVS Caremark generic drug program provided by our Health Benefits Committee Chair David Wagner (Sacramento).  John Kilgour (East Bay) has written an interesting article on pension obligation bonds (POBs), and several other timely articles.




October 2014

Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.  ~Herbert Asquith

The search for a new Executive Director for CSU-ERFA has begun.  As many of you already know, current CSU-ERFA Executive Director Don Cameron recently announced his intention to retire from his position at the end of the current fiscal year on June 30, 2015.

In accordance with CSU-ERFA By-Laws our president, Barbara Sinclair, has appointed a search committee to find a suitable candidate to fill the position of Executive Director beginning on July 1, 2015.  In addition to President Barbara Sinclair, the search committee includes Bill Blischke, David Elliott, Harold Goldwhite, and Mark Shapiro.  Don Cameron serves on the committee as a non-voting ex-officio member.

Those who may be interested in applying for the position should download the vacancy announcement, which includes a description of the duties involved, the required qualifications, the compensation, and instructions for applying for the position.







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